A HOCKEY game in Montreal is as magical as Christmas. While the holidays have a way of losing some of that magic in adulthood, somehow that hockey glory of youth has continued even though the Montreal Forum is now a movie theatre and Les Canadiens are but a shadow of their historical greatness.
I remember growing up watching a lot of Montreal games. All on the French channel. To this day the extent of my mastery of the French language consists strictly of hockey phrases. Gardien de but. La rondelle. Et le but!!!!! I took five years of French in high school and I still could not say much more than Guy Lafleur. Oh that Guy Lafleur.
Back then there was only two games a week on television. Both were on Saturday night and at the same time. Of course Hockey Night In Canada often showed the Toronto Maple Leafs, of course, and then more of the Edmonton Oilers as Wayne Gretzky emerged.
The other game was Montreal on the French channel. My Dad was a Habs fan and his favourite player was Guy Lafleur, so we watched good ol’ channel 13 – the last channel possible on the knob of our 200lb 1970s Electrohome TV set. The fact that my dad speaks French really helped him, of course.
He would allow me to switch over to the English channel during the intermissions for precious glimpses at Gretzky. Of course that meant I had to actually walk to the television and manually changed the channel. There was no remote control back then. My dad always told me Guy Lafleur was better than Gretzky anyways. Something about how his hair flew in the wind. Le Blond Demon they called him.
On the rarest of occasions we would get to watch the Canucks in Montreal. That was always an exciting game. Me and my dad watching hockey. I hated the Habs back then. They always beat the Canucks. You know, kind of like nowadays again.
But a funny thing happened over the years. As the Habs proved to be mortals after all and the Canucks even managed to win more than a few games against them in the 1990s (remember that Kirk McLean shutout performance that earned him a standing ovation in Montreal?) I actually found myself secretly cheering for Montreal. Not so much when they played Vancouver. Just against everyone else. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s for my dad. Maybe for it’s for Guy Lafleur.
So here’s hoping the Canucks and Habs meet in the playoffs. That would mean an all-Canadian Stanley Cup final. I think even my dad would be cheering on the Canucks finally after all these years. He may even watch it on the English channel.
Can we describe the Canucks calling their 4-3 shootout victory a character win? They dug themselves into a hole early, falling behind 3-0 including a very weak one to Erik Cole. At the same time the Canucks, while looking dominant at times, failed to capitalize on anything in the first half the game. Luongo finished the game strongly, and the Canucks erased the lead to force an exciting overtime.
I’m always weary of Roberto Luongo in the shootout. Luongo’s career record in shootouts is now 24 wins and 28 losses. Luongo seemed to make a concentrated effort to challenge the shooter more and to cheat to the blocker side, where he is traditionally susceptible. He stopped all three shot attempts.
Roberto Luongo is 4-6-2-2 all time in his home town of Montreal.
Think Carey Price, of Anahim Lake BC, enjoys playing the Canucks? Carey Price stopped 71 of 73 shots in the previous two games vs Vancouver, for a save percentage of .971, and was strong again last night. Price comes across as quite guarded in media interviews, but judging by those who met him at the Kispiox Rodeo event a couple of years ago he can be a very engaging conversation once he opens up.
Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette commented on Twitter about the nervous atmosphere in the building even when the Habs were up 3-0. The fan’s eggshell confidence mirrors that of the team.
On this date in Canucks history: December 9th, 2003 – Markus Naslund scored his 4th goal of the game 24 seconds into overtime as the Canucks won 4-3 against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins. It was Naslund’s 10th career hat trick.
Kevin Bieksa lost his front tooth earlier this week, thanks to an elbow from Colorado’s David Jones. Hours later a man tried selling Bieksa’s tooth for $500 on Craigslist. The seller claimed his uncle works as part of the ice crew in Denver and found the tooth after the game. Only problem with that is the game was played in Vancouver. Fail.